My documentary

I’m done with my documentary!

Check it out on Youtube, Vimeo, or CurrentTV, or head on over here to my tumblr for some extras, which I will be adding over the next few days.

cut!

The documentary’s almost finished… “almost” because I keep replaying the whole thing from the start and picking out things for tweaking. It’s a bit over 10 minutes and I’m still trying to cut it down so it’s around 9 minutes, at most. I was initially aiming for 7 minutes but that seems too far-fetched at the moment :(

There’s also this problem with the quality of the video, especially for footage that’s not mine e.g. the footage of the SLAM rally that I got online. It’s too pixelated! And I have no idea how I can fix that… so I guess I’ll have to keep it this way.. it’s not like I have much of a choice :(

The hardest part for now is finally deciding that it’s done… the foundation is there but aesthetically it could be a lot better. I’ve had to trim a lot of the interviews to take out ‘umms’ and ‘aahs’, among other things, which saved me a few seconds here and there, but the negative of that is that you can definitely see that in the talking head. I’ve played around with it in the past week but there’s nothing much I can do there either to improve that.

It feels a bit surreal that a few weeks back I was just conducting interviews…but now it’s finally getting done and being finalized. I’m really nervous about tomorrow! I’m only going to be uploading everything tonight so… nothing must go wrong with the uploading! I just did a test video publish last week and it turned out fine… so, fingers crossed, I’ll be ready to present tomorrow!

ChatRoulette “changing the face of social media”

I’ve been following media blogs and twitter profiles, and lately there’s been a lot of talk on ChatRoulette and all the viral stuff that’s been going around social media  such as FB, blogs, and especially Twitter and YouTube. CR is a social platform itself, and is definitely one that’s been getting a lot of attention – maybe too much attention – from internet users cos it’s still new and most of all, because you get to talk to randoms outside of your network and play around with that sense of chance and anonymity.

There’s no doubt that CR is changing the face of social media, as this article points out, the site gives users

…the ability to have a real, face-to-face interaction with words. As real as you can get over the Internet anyway…The newest fad to hit the social media market is sending us back in time to the good ol’ days of communication by speaking, and is giving us the ability to hear a tone of voice, notice body language, while also challenging the pale-faced, instant message gurus to respond within five seconds of a question rather than five minutes.

I’ve tried CR myself a few months back when it first came out on The Age, and to my horror two of the first three randoms that I encountered were male genitalia… and so I vowed never to go back there again. But weeks went by and more and more tweets and YouTube videos were mentioning CR, and the more I read the more I got interested in it again. I tried it again with some friends behind me – for support, and curiosity…but mostly for fun – to see who we’d encounter. We got “nexted” pretty quickly, but those who bothered to stay and talk to us were actually really interesting and normal people just here to have fun. But soon enough, the topic of conversation steered from asking for a/s/l’s to “show me your boobs” (from two very young boys, may I add!). And so we closed the window on CR again.

Well, the first article moves on to talk about the ‘diversity’ of the “community” on CR:

A recent experiment by New York City filmmaker Casey Neistat found that the Chatroulette community comprises 71% boys, 15% girls, and 14% perverts. Neistat also claims 83% of people involved are “young” with 17% “old.” Another source indicates the average user is 82% male, with 9% of the images displaying male nudity.

Interesting, but does CR really form a “community”???

BodySpaceSociety writes interestingly on “the sociology of ChatRoulette” and relate the new phenomenon to a “world of sheer immorality which will challenge all your values and potentially wreck civilisation“. But the author, Casilli refers to it as a form of community because

Social networking services have often been criticized for creating weak ties – as opposed to real, strong ties connecting individuals with their families, neighbours and peers offline. Chatroulette pushes the envelope by creating disposable social ties, thrown away after one use. According to the people at the Web Ecology Project this operating principle describes a « probabilistic online community », a social group where common practices, distinctive behaviours and a definite cultural identity emerge as a result of a stochastic process.

…the very notion of « probabilistic community » sounds uttely paradoxical to sociologically-trained ears. Since its 19th century beginnings, sociology has been concerned about the difference between the close-knit mutual bond connecting human beings in a « community » (Gemeinschaft) and the anonymous, alienating face-to-face relations that are common in what was described derogatorily as « society » (Gesellschaft). From Tönnies (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 1887) to Putnam (Bowling alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, 2000), the grand sociological tradition has constantly stressed the sharp opposition between the sense of belonging, the togetherness of a community and the shallowness of « totally socialized society » (Vergesellschaftete Gesellschaft, as defined by Th. W. Adorno Thesen über Bedürfnis, 1972).

Chatroulette seems to question these distinctions, as it brings together disparate individuals with no strong ties, who end up sharing a common culture and peculiar codes of conduct.

But as interest in CR keeps increasing, there might be more developments in the future, and possibly the formation of a ‘virtual community’. But for now, I think it’s true what Casilli says… it seems like other than connecting people online and creating ties, albeit disposable ones, among anonymous people from anywhere in the world, it’s also becoming a platform for people to be deviant and it is breaking down social values. Or maybe, it’s just spreading this deviance to random people online and giving us more exposure/awareness towards the prevalence of these things.

Before this we just haven’t had the platform to socialise with randoms online – everyone we talk to on social media platforms have been our friends or family, or maybe other people we may not necessarily know in real life but people connected to us or our network in one way or another. CR has allowed us to look out of that network, this ‘bubble’, and see what’s happening in the other side of the world. And we’re slowly realizing that on the other side of the world there are voyeurs, exhibitionists, perverts, and children who have no problem asking to see you naked and shout obscenities at you if you don’t (for screenshot examples, click here [NSFW]). (FOXnews: Authorities call CR ‘Predators’ Paradise’)

So is CR a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it really depends on how you see it. There’re many entertaining videos on users’ experiences with ChatRoulette, and CR is moving from a simple social tool for perving and meeting new people, to promoting & marketing businesses (BuzzTV viral campaign, Travelocity), making parodies (Lady Gaga “Telephone” parody), making music videos (Israeli band Hovevey Zion), and just simple entertainment (CR Funny Piano Improv). It’ll definitely be interesting to see what will develop from here, but it’s even more inspiring, in a way, to know that this idea was conceived by a 17-year-old high school student. Really makes you wonder who else out there has other brilliant ideas that will change the social media landscape :)

Documentary Conclusions & more on progress!

Was supposed to publish this last week, but didn’t get a chance to… but here it is!:

I was putting together my video and had a general structure in place, before I realised that the conclusion is just as important as the introduction. I was sure that I should wrap up the whole story with something along the lines of “visions and hopes for the future” which, I thought, was the best and more surefire way of ending any story. But in tute, Jenny raised a very valid point that because the fight is still ongoing, it would be more appropriate to leave it hanging. And so there went my idea of an ideal conclusion, and in came the hard part of thinking of a good ‘hanging’ conclusion.

It was difficult for me because I was thinking about just how to leave it hanging. There can be so many ways to end it with an open conclusion, and there were a few good lines from Bek (from SLAM) and Bruce (from the Tote), which were basically their own hanging conclusions about the whole situation. I’ve been going through their interviews sooo many times now that I can remember roughly what they said at which minute of the video … and editing has been crazy!

There’s been a lot of problems with Final Cut … I guess the main problem was that I sped through the basics and was sure I  knew how to use it – which I did, except when it came to all the formatting. I was quite pissed that my Sony Camcorder recorded my videos in .mpg, and even more pissed that Mac applications don’t agree with them. Even after converting my videos to .mov (for apple/quicktime) I encountered problems in rendering and getting the sound right. I guess we didn’t realize it’d be an issue – and well, neither did I – but if only I’d learned Final Cut earlier on it would’ve been so good. But for now, Windows Movie Maker has been doing wonders… I’m doing it the long way by extracting the audio off it so I can overlay images on top of it instead of just having a talking head for the whole documentary… and it’s really tiring but I’m getting there…

I was really excited to start with postproduction at first… but when it finally came down to the work I literally had my moods dragged down by all the fails and successes. Even WMM was giving me problems by suddenly shutting down each time I added videos to the timeline. Thank Google I found the solution to the problem… boy, do I love YouTube tutorials and computer geek forums :P

But regardless, the basic structure of my documentary is done, and now all there’s left to do is to choose the perfect ‘line’ for my conclusion and refine the whole video aesthetically, as well as make a new blog and edit all my info there… For now, the video is turning out to be just okay, mostly because of the time constraints … keeping all the info down to less than 10 minutes is really, really difficult! I think one of the problems was that my interviewees would keep talking and expanding their views… and in terms of editing it’s easy to pick out what you want to include or exclude, but difficult to cut that into pieces and make everything seem seamless.

Anyway, it’s now back to editing! All the best with everyone’s documentaries :D

The ROI of Social Media

I’ve been bogged down with work for the whole of last week and it’s been a craaazy week but I’m getting back on track again with editing the documentary, and it’s almost done now, so YAY!

But doing this course has been really interesting, and I like that I can learn things from my subjects and tie them in together… for one of my other assignments I’m focusing on social media, and came across this video by socialnomics09 about the ROI of Social Media and it’s really interesting to look at all these numbers and realize the effectiveness of social media in terms of marketing anything and everything globally and getting very good returns!

Social media is good for marketing and all… but what about using social media to generate awareness in social issues?

I was interested in looking at how social media could be used in addressing problems affecting youths, and considering youths are one of the heaviest online and social media users, it would be more effective to target them online instead of using traditional media like ads

If you’ve heard of TWLOHA, you’ll realize the capability of social media in spreading awareness. TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) is an American-based nonprofit organisation aimed at spreading awareness about depression and suicide, and since its conception in 2006, TWLOHA has spread globally and helped thousands of people get help and stay alive by bridging the gap between traditional means of getting help (therapy, hopelines, etc.) and the people who need help. They don’t try to give you information about depression; rather, they are there to show you that they understand and know what you’re going through, and assuring you that as much as pain is real, hope and help is real as well (TWLOHA’s vision).

One of the more interesting aspects about TWLOHA and how they grew is the fact that they did so through community and participation, as well as social media, and as such is viewed more as a grassroots movement instead of some charity organisation. A sort of community was formed in the sense that anyone who knew about them were not only sufferers but also people affected by sufferers (friends..family..) and supporters of their cause – and their cause was spread through social media, word of mouth, and merchandise… but most importantly, their supporters became their “brand advocates” by supporting and promoting TWLOHA widely among their own networks and communities. TWLOHA was also heavily supported by popular bands in the U.S. who would wear their merch and from there, spread the word of TWLOHA to their fans… TWLOHA then became topics of interest in band forums, and their fans quickly became supporters of TWLOHA as well… and I guess in a way I’m becoming TWLOHA’s advocate as well, by spreading their cause to you, my readers, through social media such as this blog, and my Facebook and Twitter.

So I thought it would be really interesting to see how social media could be used to spread awareness on other youth problems such as mental health and substance abuse among youths.

Also… if you’re interested in supporting TWLOHA or other great causes, you should check out SocialVibe as well. It’s a social media and a community aimed at connecting people with charity organisations to generate attention to worthy causes and also to help raise money through donations that YOU help raise by spreading the word to your networks :)

Music recommendation & Youtube

I previously came across an article about research conducted by Gartner (an IT research firm) on how UK consumers find music online, where they found that word-of-mouth recommendations is the most powerful way of driving consumers to purchase music. One of the key points the article pointed out was the need for download services and labels to form partnerships with social networking sites.

From the article:

The key is those ‘click to purchase’ links, and while it sounds obvious that consumers are more likely to purchase if there are fewer steps in the discovery/purchase process, these links are not as ubiquitous as they should be. That counts for the desktop and for mobile. Against a background of unreliable ad revenue, social networking sites need to increase opportunities for users to buy music they are sharing.

Labels also need to keep exploring social networking tools that help them tap the interest and trends of content sharing and the discussion around that sharing, particularly around streaming.

It’s pretty interesting… and I think it kind of taps into social networking sites as grounds for social capital …

I’m anticipating far more creative options for location-tagged music, so a certain location like a bar or gig venue would alert music fans to new tracks related to that venue, possibly those left ‘tagged’ by your friends. And then a handy click to buy bit.ly link when your phone accesses that recommendation…

Also more recently, an article on Lady Gaga & her using social media to gain popularity

The hot topic of the conversation was YouTube and Twitter. Carter said openly that he and Lady Gaga “create music videos for YouTube.” Braun agreed with Carter, saying that Bieber represented a new strategy of creating a breakout teenage star. Braun said that previously teenage music stars has to have a show on Nickelodeon or Disney. But Bieber changed this; he was found on YouTube and his first videos singing Aretha Franklin’s Respect saw 55 million views by the time the artist signed a record deal with Universal Music. He ended up going Platinum shortly after

Gaga originally broke out on YouTube and MySpace Music (which Braun was quick to say is dead)…

And what about Twitter? Both managers said that Twitter is a great way to connect with fans, especially for artists who were discovered by fans on YouTube. Twitter breaks down the layers between the artists and the fan, says Carter. Braun says that Bieber loves talking to his fans over Twitter (perhaps that’s why he’s always a trending topic!).

I guess it comes to no surprise that Twitter and Youtube are fast becoming starting platforms for hopeful singers who want to break into the industry, hoping that some music producer will chance upon a video of themselves singing at their best and sign them up for a record label. Chances are slim for many, but if you’re lucky you actually get spotted and picked up! But mostly, I’ve seen many YouTube singers get started on their own by gaining popularity on YouTube before going on to becoming independent musicians making CDs and selling them to their fans.

YouTube, of course, saw this as a big opportunity for them, and in March this year announced a plan to entice independent musicians to share ad revenues (read the article here) dubbed “Musicians Wanted”.

YouTube’s also been a tool used to publish videos on ChatRoulette, further propelling the viral effect that’s been the driving force behind CR, which in turn is also being used to create viral ads – have you seen the Lady Gaga “Telephone” video on CR? Or the piano improv guy? They’re all quite hilarious so you should go have a look… to relieve some stress haha! ;)

Documentary websites

Was browsing online for documentaries, and found some websites that compiles docos, so if you’re free you should have a look at some of the docos!

Indietalk.com – a filmmaking community

Documentary-film Network

4Docs

I’ve got most of my interviews done now, and I’m just beginning on post-production now. The hard part with interviewing people is setting a date for the interview. So far, one of the bands I was going to interview have kind of backed out because they’re having some conflicts within the group, and another interviewee is sick so the interview has been postponed until late next week (!!), and I’ve also managed to lose one release form on my way back from an interview :( Thanks to the wonders of technology I will be getting the release form emailed back to me haha.

I now have more than 30 minutes worth of interview material to crop and edit, and a lot of planning to do in terms of deciding what audio goes where and what pictures to put in and what footage to include. But at least I know the structure I want in my doco and so hopefully it will all just fit into place from there.

Other than that, I find it hard not to sympathize with Bruce, the previous owner of the Tote, who I just interviewed recently, because as I was having a chat with him after the interview I found out the extent of his debts after the closing of the Tote. It’s really quite sad finding out about him going through so much right now, and even listening to him talking about his ordeal when he was forced to make the decision to shut down the Tote due to financial insufficiencies made me really want to reach out to him. This part of the interview, where Bruce talks about what he went through that rough week, will no doubt reach out to the audience as well.

I guess that’s the hardest part of doing a documentary – hearing people speak about the reality of their lives from their perspective, and seeing the truth behind a situation from someone can really move you and change the way you think and feel about something. And that’s really why I want to do this documentary. Although it’s not really about Bruce or about the Tote, it just goes to show how you don’t know everything about an issue until you really talk to someone who’s been greatly affected by it. In terms of SLAM and the LLV laws, all we knew from the media was the music community as a whole and the music venues closing down. We only knew about the issue and the conflict affecting a whole community, and didn’t know the extent to which it affected one person’s life. Multiply that by, I don’t know, twenty other owners of music venues affected by the laws, and then you really start to really just how many peoples’ lives are really affected by this issue.